Pay To Fish?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by LCnSac, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. Do you do this, or have you? If not, do you want to?

    I have mixed feelings, mostly against it. I go to two places at least one-three times a year. One is a lodge with several small lakes that hold trips on steroids. Lots of 8-10 lb. trout in them, some larger. They don't usually fight all that hard, but if you want to get large trout, there's your place. I just never count them when talking size. I usually go with a group of guys that only get out a few times a year, and they want to get good fish. Understandable, but it's still catching someones pets. Henderson Springs.

    The other place is a small lake that has some excellent strains that do fight, or can. Last time up I was practically spooled by a 23" Eagle Lake trout, but that's unusual. We pay $150 a day and it's great for trying new techniques and catching some good fish during a lull elsewhere. Still, it's not real and I don't confuse catches there, or in any pay to fish lake, with those in public water.

    Some exceptions for me are fishing rivers or streams on private land where the fish are wild. Arcularius Ranch on the Owens River, which was I think the #2 fish per mile river in the U.S., was $85 per night per rod with lodging and fishing both days. It was, and is, a true blue ribbon river, but a decade or so ago was turned into an exclusive fishing resort for the SoCal fancy boy crowd. Nearby Hot Creek is/was the #1 fish per mile river, and has public access. Hot gets crowded on the weekends and has a very fancy crowd from El A usually, but it's still great water.

    I think pay to fish trips are best for a social outing with a group, and I don't think you learn much on pay to fish waters.You do, however, get a limited number of rods on the water, excellent access, and safety. I'd like to try a few others, but I'd much rather fish great public waters in Central Oregon or the Eastern Sierra that do hold large trout, and where you have to work at it.

    Do you have an opinion on this, or a favorite pay to fish venue?
  2. I've never fished somewhere like that, and I'm not sure that I would. The closest thing to that I've done is dropping some dollars in the donation box at Caddy Lake. If I was going to pay $150 to fish a lake for stocked trout, I would just get a buddy and hire a guide to put us on fish in a river so we could use his boat.

    I was in Colorado a few months ago, and the guys camped next to us were part of a private fishing club. They paid an annual fee and then rod fees each day to fish the private sections of the river. It totaled out to be quite a bit of money. They had some impressive fish, but they were no more and no better than the ones my dad and I were catching in public water. The river wasn't crowded either, so I'm not sure what benefit they gained from their expensive private club.

    You are probably right about the social aspect of fishing spots like those, but I am confident enough in my ability to find good water and catch fish that I don't see that as being worth it to me. Plus, finding and exploring new water on my own is at least 50% of the fun and adventure for me. Fishing is about enjoying yourself, and everyone should fish whatever way they enjoy the most. If that is paying money to fish private land with your buddies then more power to you, but I don't think that is my cup of tea.
  3. I used to belong to a private fishing club on the Middle Fork of the American, which is very wild, very unaccessible, and holds wild Browns. It was not too bad, $1000 a year, but for those wild Browns in a camp that was frozen in time with an original gold rush grocery store building, still standing and completely unrestored, and a whore house next door in the same condition, it seemed worthwhile. Two years, and I caught only poison oak. That was enough for me.
    JesseC and Tyler Axel like this.
  4. "I was in Colorado a few months ago, and the guys camped next to us were part of a private fishing club. They paid an annual fee and then rod fees each day to fish the private sections of the river. It totaled out to be quite a bit of money. They had some impressive fish, but they were no more and no better than the ones my dad and I were catching in public water. The river wasn't crowded either, so I'm not sure what benefit they gained from their expensive private club."

    My guess is these were business men 'doing deals' over dinner and Single Malts. Many-many years back I was a minimal part of this. The 'why of that' is I actually had a Coast Guard Pilots License to run the chartered boat. Can't remember the ladies name but she was in charge of meals; we got the two front bunks under the boat bow (NO HANKIE-BANKIE!)

    Last trip didn't work out so well. Picked up the six in Lake Union and twenty minutes later their 'Lady Friends.' :) That I wasn't prepared for .... going through the Government Locks into Puget Sound their collective wives decided to drive down and give them a 'fare well wave.' You get one guess as to how that 'Puppy didn't Hunt.':mad:
  5. That pretty much describes some of our group, and I was squarely a part of it for many years. I'm mostly done with all that, and do not miss it much. We're all in the same business, and as we get older we become more mellow, as the thrill of deal making becomes somewhat ephemeral. GREAT story, Fred, LOL!
  6. I'll bet that was a nervous trip back to the dock for those fellas.
  7. I have a yearly Hancock permit that I really value. Not so much to pay to catch fish, but I consider it worth it to pay to enjoy fishing more.
  8. If you pay to play golf, why is that any different than paying to fish? When you buy a fishing license, you are paying to fish.

    It isn't for everyone but nobody is forcing anyone to visit a pay to play fishery.

    All the pay to fish facilities I've visited are nicely kept and the lakes hold very large trout that I can not find in a public lake... not these days, anyway. Of course, this doesn't mean I can catch them but just because you pay to golf, it doesn't mean you'll do well.

    So for me, it is an option. I don't see the NW going the route of England anytime soon where public fishing is very limited with the majority of fishing spots requiring some manner of membership or daily fee for you to fish.

    If you're not into paying the price to fish at a pay to play fishery ... don't go.

    Besides.... there's a lot to be said for the solitude at a pay fishery that you will not get at a public fishery... sometimes the quiet is worth the price.
    shotgunner, Don Freeman and JesseC like this.
  9. Good point, Gene. I've only gone to one pay-to-fish place, and for me it was free, and I had a very good time. It was a small place with, if I recall correctly, Kamloops rainbows in it. I'd say it would be a cool place to teach somebody to fly fish with high probability of some success and a decent chance of a real lunker. If I recall, the price was something like $75 per day, a lot less than a guide.
  10. The difference to me is that whether you shoot a 76 on a private or public course, you still shot a 76. Private lake fish are stocked several times a year and the quantity is controlled. Holdovers are pretty rare. I do not believe that landing a 10# trout from a private stocked lake is the same as from public water.

    Pronghorn is one place I want to fish. The reports are pretty good, although you might need two or three days there to get what you're after. The owner gave our club a good presentation, and I think their stock is better than many. Any place that has Kamloops is for me. We used to get them all the time down here in public waters that had some non DFW (county or chamber) plants, but I haven't hooked one in two years.
  11. Seems like the pay waters would be a good place to take enthusiastic newbs, kids, spouses, etc. Essentially anyone who may not be able to endure the sometimes looooong spell between the first cast and the first catch. Some folks never get hooked on the drug if they don't feel the tug....
    Alexander, GAT and LCnSac like this.
  12. I like the idea on private lakes, but not on rivers.

    A private lake with a maintained fishery can't be a bad thing even if all it does is lower fishing pressure elsewhere.
  13. There used to be a pay to fish section on the Lyre river. So....worth....every....penny

    Now there aren't any hatchery steel in that river, and unless
    You can target isn't worth it
  14. Almost as embarrassing as hiring a guide.

    Go Sox,
    Brookie_Hunter likes this.
  15. Negative on the rivers, it's a slippery slope. Spring creeks that already run through someone's land so be it.
    weiliwen likes this.
  16. I'm one who would sooner pay to fish on private land on a stretch of river in a crowded area than pay for most private lakes.

    As to guides, they can be useful for new waters or for transportation. Some people use them every time they fish, and I think they're missing out on a lot. The only place I use a guide repeatedly is the Lower Sac--and that's for transportation and rowing.

    Once in a great while they will teach you some invaluable techniques, but in my experience that is rare. I avoid them if I can.
  17. I have a lot of experience with pay to fish operations, both as a customer and an operator. My experience is limited to lake fishing operations. Typically the DFW won't issue a stocking permit for rivers, so what you are paying for is private access, but the fish are typically either wild, naturally reproducing, or stocked by a government entity. In rivers the fish have the opportunity to move around, so it is not a controlled environment like a lake.

    In lakes the experience varies widely depending on location, scenery, stocking process, fish strains, etc. Most guys who are paying to fish want to catch big fish. How the fish get big is the key to the angling experience. If they are stocked as mature fish, they will fight poorly and often have tell tale signs like squared off tails from rubbing on the hatchery pen walls. If they are stocked as fingerlings (or juveniles) and grow up in the lake, they will typically fight like naturally reproducing fish. The strain of fish, food sources, and growing season all impact natural growth. Typically genetically engineered fish like triploids grow large but fight poorly. Diploids are often harder fighters but don't grow as fast and don't live as long. Certain strains, like Kamloops, Eagle lake, etc. have a reputation for being acrobatic and taking line. Some lakes have the biomass to grow big fish and some are less fertile. Adding feeders to supplement the natural food is another tactic that can work well as long as there is enough natural food to keep the fish moving around, and not keying solely on pellets.

    Catching a variety of fish is also fun for a lot of people, so stocking Browns, Brooks and Tigers in addition to Rainbows can make a pay lake more interesting. From my experience, just because you have a lake to yourself doesn't mean you are guaranteed lights out fishing. The odds are in your favor, but you still have to dial it in, and some days the fish just don't want to cooperate. Weather still plays a role, and fish can get selective if there is an abundance of natural food around. Also, in the good lakes they are managed to balance angler success with optimal fish growth. It is not a matter of just dumping in so many fish that even an idiot can catch them. This will possibly be fun in the short run, but eventually they will overwhelm the food source and become snaky poorly conditioned fish. A healthy lake will typically have 3-4 classes of fish that are being caught during the day, and the big ones will be as well conditioned as the small ones.

    Not everyone is inclined to invest $100 - $200 for a day of fishing, so pay fisheries aren't for everyone. And great days can be had on many of our public waters. But having a lake to yourself, surrounded by beautiful scenery, and catching a lot of fish with a chance for truly large fish, and sharing it with just your friends, can be a pretty special experience. I find the good pay lakes are worth the cost every now and again.
    Starman77, Irafly, David A. and 2 others like this.
  18. I have a few times, but generally not. I prefer public access waters and self guided. If you think about though, guided trips are running north of $400 and many of these pay to play lakes or streams offer a day of high quality fishing at 1/2 the price or less.
  19. Were they part of this club/ membership?

    When I lived in Denver and was a DINC (Dual Income No Children) I seriously considered this route as my neighbor had recieved a membership via a christmas present (we were both in our late 20's). Don't automatically write off the group as old, rich white guys drinking scotch and smoking expensive stogies because they are on private water. In a state liKe CO with the water laws, IMO if you have the funding to pay for it (or recieve via a gift) it actually opens up a lot of water to you and is far cheaper than guides, especially if you know what you're doing.

    That being said, there is tons of good public water out there but you have to hunt to find it, which sometimes is more fun than the actual fishing. For what its worth, the most stuffy, "old school" fishing environment I've been on was on a public stretch of the Au Sable this past spring in MI...thought I was on a pay for spring creek in England with all the tweed and cigars I saw on the river.
  20. I've been to several "pay to play" lakes. All were Project Healing Waters related mind you. I don't know if I'd have gone if it wasn't. It was fun. I like saying it's like going to a whore house. Just get your guaranteed fix. lol
    jersey, Lugan and jeff bandy like this.

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